Rangers goalkeeper Allan McGregor has paid tribute to Ibrox legend Andy Goram, who passed away at the age of 58 after a short battle with cancer.
Goram made 260 appearances for Gers between 1991 and 1998, and won five league titles, three Scottish Cups and two League Cups.
McGregor followed in Goram’s footsteps after breaking into the Rangers first team having come through the youth team with his guidance.
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Speaking exclusively to Sky Sports News, McGregor said: “He was someone I looked up to when I was younger.
“When I used to train in the school holidays, I’d train with the first team as well and he was a great character, an unbelievable goalie and a great guy.
“I was fortunate enough to go and see him a couple of months ago in hospital and he was still his usual, bubbly self. He was telling loads of stories. He will be sorely missed by everybody.”
The former Oldham Athletic and Hibernian shot-stopper won 43 caps for Scotland and was the first-choice goalkeeper for both Euro 92 and Euro 96 in Sweden and England respectively.
Where does McGregor rank Goram in Rangers and Scottish football history?
“He’s got to be up there without a shadow of a doubt,” he said. “He’s one of the best if not the best.
“He was unbelievable for the club and great with Scotland.”
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McGregor has forged his own legendary status at Rangers having won four league titles and Scottish Cups, and five League Cups over two spells.
The 40-year-old is heading into a 16th year in the first team with the club after it had looked like he was set to leave following an emotional ‘farewell’ coming on for the final few minutes of their Scottish Cup final win against Hearts.
But McGregor has decided to remain part of Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s squad signing a one-year extension.
“It was a fairly easy decision [(to re-sign),” said McGregor. “At the end of last season it was a bit mental with all the games. By March it was weekend-midweek straight through and I was just concentrating on the games, not the future.
“During the holidays, I spoke to a few people and got a vibe that if your body can do it, play as long as you can.
“I’ll take it one season at a time, one week at a time actually! I feel alright, until the day comes that I don’t, I’ll give it a go.
“I do a lot in the gym, stretching predominately, make sure my knee is okay, my back. Stretching helps me a lot. I watched big David Weir do it a lot when he was in his late 30s and that kept him going until 41.”
McGregor played a key role as the Ibrox side reached the Europa League final last season, making up for the disappointment of missing the UEFA Cup final through injury in 2008.
Success in Europe is again a target for this season along with reclaiming the Scottish Premiership title from Celtic.
“Of course it will be difficult (to win the league), every year it’ll be difficult,” he said.
“We know we’ve got a challenge on our hands. First things first, we want to qualify for the Champions League which will be difficult. But the boys are looking forward to it. This is what being at Rangers is all about.”
McGregor admits their heart-breaking Europa League final defeat on penalties to Eintracht Frankfurt can be difficult to reflect on, but is one they can use for motivation.
“I do look back, it pops up every now and again, ‘I wish I’d done that, I wish I’d done this’,” he added.
“Hindsight is a wonderful thing. You just need to look back at the memories of the journey, how we got there, the game itself and that must give everybody the taste for more success.”
Rangers will begin the 2022/23 Scottish Premiership season in front of the Sky Sports cameras with a lunchtime trip to face Livingston on Saturday, July 30 at the Tony Macaroni Arena.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s side, who will be seeded in the Champions League third qualifying round ahead of the new campaign, then host Kilmarnock on August 6 before St Johnstone visit Ibrox on August 13.
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The first Old Firm clash of the new season is at Celtic Park on September 3 with Rangers’ opening encounter at home to their Glasgow rivals pencilled in for January 2.
There is a mid-season break due to the World Cup in Qatar, with Rangers’ final fixture before the hiatus seeing them travel to St Mirren; Hibernian then travel to Ibrox on December 17 before Rangers head to Ross County on Christmas Eve.
The regular campaign concludes for last season’s Scottish Premiership runners-up with a trip to Pittodrie to face Aberdeen on April 22.